January ..... the aftermath of too many turkey dinners, cheeseboards and chocolate oranges and the time when your buttons suddenly start to pop off and you feel like going dry for a month!
For once I didn’t have this problem. A Boxing Day spent in bed recovering from the worst case of dyspepsia I can ever remember meant no appetite until the new year and no risk of piling on the pounds.
Severe dyspepsia, by the way, is no laughing matter.
Even the duty GP said he had known folks go into A&E claiming to be suffering from a heart attack, when it was more a question of too much beer and cake playing hell with your system.
However, I was still keen to make a healthy start to January, not in a joyless clean-eating, going for a six-mile run in the sleet sort of a way, but making a concerted effort to stock the household fridge with an abundance of fruit and greens.
Well if you like your greens, then Penny Clare could well be the perfect spot, I cannot recall many other times when such a varied, colourful and well presented salad arrived with my main course that left me wanting more.
There are far too many cafes – and those in tourist areas are generally the worst culprits – where a limp bit of lettuce, anaemic coleslaw and a shrivelled tomato might pass for a side salad, but I’m pleased to say not here at Penny Clare.
First things first.
For those who have not yet discovered this little foodie paradise, turn off the Whitby to Guisborough road at the Millbry Hill junction and trundle along the short country lane to Newholm.
Penny Clare is next to the car park on the first turn to the left as you enter the hamlet, with the cafe tucked behind the main shop. Blink and you’ll miss it but word of mouth has obviously worked wonders.
We booked a table for two (a rare date for the Mrs and myself, with the eldest at school and the youngest fast asleep in her pram) at midday on the first week back after the yuletide break, thinking we might have the place to ourselves, but it soon filled up, keeping the kitchen and waiting on staff busy as the orders kept coming.
If you get to Penny Clare tearoom in the morning and arrive feeling hungry, one option is the fully loaded breakfast. For £8.95 you get two rashers of bacon, a sausage burger, eggs, beans, tomatoes, black pudding, toast and jam or marmalade. Safe to say you wouldn’t need to eat again for some time afterwards.
I decided to go for a jacket potato with arguably the best filling you can have – chilli con carne (it is so much more appetising then coleslaw), while the wife went for a cheese and mushroom omelette. Both came with salads, which were plentiful in their variety, colour and taste. The jacket was lovely, the omelette could have done with some more seasoning or cheese, but was otherwise okay.
We were both really impressed with our desserts. My fruit crumble, fresh out the oven, with ice cream was delicious. The sharpness of the fruits blended well with the oatiness of the topping. The wife’s syrup sponge also proved a smash hit. A shared pot of tea provided plenty of liquid refreshment and the bill of just £28, offered what I considered to be fair value for money.
We’d be more than happy to return.